Joan Hayden

To many, March 8 was just an ordinary spring day in the tri-state.

For Joan Hayden, it was anything but ordinary. That was the day she was informed she had breast cancer.

Joan took a few minutes to cry, and then called her husband, who came home to talk about it. Then Joan called her sister, a retired nurse who cared for patients at Owensboro Health for 40 years. Joan wanted her sister’s insight on what to do next. Joan’s sister, in turn, called their friend who had worked at Owensboro Health’s Mitchell Memorial Cancer Center for 12 years. Then, they started working on a plan.

Joan was called by Mary, an oncology nurse navigator. A nurse navigator is a patient advocate at Mitchell Memorial Cancer Center who is assigned to new cancer patients to help them throughout treatment.

Joan then requested to meet with Dr. Dattatraya Prajapati, a medical oncologist with Owensboro Health Medical Group – Hematology & Oncology. Joan informed Dr. Prajapati of her family’s history: Her father’s family had a history of certain cancers, while her mother’s side did not.

Dr. Prajapati ordered a genetic screening test and an MRI, which showed some good news: Joan’s cancer was tiny – thanks to catching it early via her annual mammogram – meaning she had great reason for hope.

Joan then asked to see Dr. Alan Mullins with Owensboro Health Medical Group – Surgical Specialists. Dr. Mullins took all the time Joan needed in explaining the upcoming surgery and also scheduled Joan to see Dr. Jim Tidwell and Dr. Janae Kittinger of Owensboro Health Medical Group – Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery.

Joan then saw Dr. Ryan Faught, a radiation oncologist at the Mitchell Memorial Cancer Center, who explained what she could expect from radiation treatments. Even in the face of a difficult situation and complex topic, Dr. Faught was “very personable.”

“I was bombarded with appointments for two weeks, but by doing this in the order that I did, I was very confident in my doctors. I knew exactly what was going to happen from start to finish,” Joan said. “I felt my whole person was treated, not just my cancer.”

Joan was declared cancer-free in the fall of 2018. She underwent surgery and reconstruction, as well as radiation therapy. Thanks to the help of Owensboro Health’s national-quality cancer care, she is looking forward to many bright days ahead.

Looking back, Joan said she knew she wasn’t alone. She was backed by an outstanding team.

“I have received wonderful care from all of the doctors and nurses involved in my diagnosis and treatment, they are a caring and loving group of people,” Joan said.